Where Heaven and Earth Meet

The nest is empty again.  Amy’s back in Cincy, and Daniel made it back to Ann Arbor late last night.  The house was quiet, and Anjie and I talked, quietly thankful for our kids.   Funny…with our children it’s easy to see and celebrate the two different worlds of what-has-been and what-will-be.

Intersecting worlds of that which we know and that which we don’t.

Yesterday, late in the afternoon, I had a conversation with a friend–a very, very smart man–in which he described to me his own awe and fascination with our being.   That we are more than the sum of our parts, that we are born for eternity, from and for the realm of God.   He spoke eloquently and with passion, and I was glad to be reminded of the greatness of this essential mystery.

This morning, after a night of restless sleep, I read an article by N. T. Wright, the Bishop of Durham, that took me a bit further down this path.  Part of my talk for Sunday morning concerns the Holy Spirit, and Wright lays out in brilliant fashion the role of the Spirit’s work in the intersection of the human realm and God’s realm.  The brilliant enterprise of ushering in the forever reign of God into the now, so that God’s renewing and re-creating life flows into our broken days with power and beauty, is at the heart of the Spirit’s work, even as it was in the beginning.  The Spirit broods and hovers as He always has, but His orientation is somewhat different now, given that the temple in which He resides has changed form.

His temple is us.

Wright points out that according to Christian theology, the disciples of Jesus are walking points of intersection between Heaven and Earth.    That our bodies are dwelling places of God on the Earth, and that because this is not pantheism, wherein rabbits would be every bit as much God’s dwelling place on Earth as Christ-followers, God’s presence and work in our embodied spirits really matters.   Wright observes that this is, of course, offensive in today’s world, where democratic spirituality is the order of the day, all people and religions having equal access to everything, including the mysteries, the wisdom, and the presence of God.   But no, Wright says.  Just as the Jerusalem temple was in fact, the dwelling place of God’s “Shekinah” (visible, manifest) glory, so today, that same “Shekinah” glory resides in His temple still…namely, the church.

Read the article to hear Wright’s answers to the various objections to this notion, the most prevalent of which is how little heaven Christians seem to bring to Earth.    True enough, we’re not very good at this Heaven-making business, but then it’s not our job to make Heaven.  But it is our job to get out of the way so the Spirit can do his creative thing with us.

It’s an inspiring thought, Heaven and Earth meeting here in the little coffee shop where my friend is just sitting down to join me.  Sobering, too.   Where we walk today, there is a portal through which God wants to pour blessing, wisdom, grace, and love, none of it belonging to or originating with us.

May a trail of Heaven-dust litter the trailing path of all who follow Jesus today.

Open the door wide…life coming through…

2 Comments

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  1. once again, i refer to a verse from my favorite song (for now) about heaven meeting earth:

    We are His portion and He is our prize,
    Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes,
    If grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking.
    So Heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss,
    And my heart turns violently inside of my chest,
    I don’t have time to maintain these regrets,
    When I think about, the way…

    He loves us,
    Whoa! how He loves us…..
    by John Mark McMillan; favorite rendition by Kim Walker of Jesus Culture.

  2. To use our pastor’s favorite theological word:
    WOW! (wonder of wonders)

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